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What are grandparents' rights like in Arizona?

It is not uncommon for grandparents in Arizona to take on a significant role in their grandchild's life. Even though grandparents are often afforded much time with their grandchildren, this is not always the case when major life events occur. Divorce has the tendency to contemplate the relationships everyone has with extended family members, thereby causing some grandparents to invoke their rights.

What are grandparents' rights like in Arizona? While the state of Arizona is known for having its fair share of grandparents due to the abundance of retirement communities, it is not the fairest state when it comes to grandparents' rights. For example, Arizona is one of the states in the nation that exempts grandparent visitation suits from being filed when a family is intact. In other words, if the parents of the child are still together, a grandparent cannot exert these rights.

Therefore, the parents must be divorced to even consider filing an action. In fact, in the state of Arizona, the marriage must have been dissolved for at least three months in order for a grandparent to file a motion for grandparent visitation.

If it is determined that a grandparent does qualify for these rights, he or she has the ability to file a petition for visitation as part of the divorce proceeding. This is also possible in cases where a paternity proceeding is taking place. Otherwise, a grandparent is able to file this petition separately.

In all states, the "best interests of the child" standard is used in grandparents' rights cases. Courts are required to consider all relevant factors, which include the past relationship between the grandparent and grandchild, the motives of the grandparent seeking visitation, the motivations of the parent denying visitation, the quantity of time being requested, possible adverse effects caused by visitation and other similar factors.

If you are currently in a dispute regarding the visitation of your grandchild, it is important to understand that you may have rights afforded to you. If you are unsure how to proceed or navigate the proceeding, an attorney experienced in family law could help guide you through the matter.

Source: Thespruce.com, "Arizona Grandparents' Rights," Susan Adcox, May 4, 2016

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